Assuming you are starting a small business.
Ever wonder why some businesses are so successful and a vast majority struggles to pay their bills?
It’s not about money or luck.
It’s their approach.
There are quite a few things you can learn from the experiences of other successful businesses.
You don’t have to invent the wheel again.
Let’s take a look at 24 lessons I learned from successful businesses.
1# Take Good Care of Yourself
Your health is a true wealth.
I know, you are planning to start gym really soon. Don’t wait to join the gym. Do some stretching now you will feel lot better.
We all want to do exercise but overlooked it often.
Building a successful business requires a huge amount of energy and efforts. Taking care of yourself must be your first priority. It’s not because you are a selfish person. It’s because you cannot take care of anyone else if you are not fit & healthy.
To me it’s not worth building something at the cost of your health.
Take away: You only need minimum 30 minutes of exercise daily to keep yourself fit. 30 minutes can be divided into 3 parts of 10 minutes each. Here are the 3 exercises you can do it without leaving your office table. .
“Always remember, your focus determines your reality.” – Qui-Gon to Anakin
Working on multiple projects simultaneously often creates misery in our lives.
- Decide your 1 to 5 years goals for your business
- Break it down into chunks (milestones)
- Focus on completing the milestones
Due to the current state of the technology, it is getting really hard for us to focus on one thing consistently. This is the challenge; you can read a great book power of focus by Jack Canfield if you need help in mastering the art of focus.
Take away: You must know and focus on your mission day in day out. Don’t move to a new task / project until the old one is completed.
3# Keep it Simple
Don’t try to solve every problem with one great product. It will get complicated.
Most great products in the world are simple:
- iPad (Give it your mum or one year old, they will love it)
- Google search (I never had a problem using it)
- Chicken Burger (McDonald’s)
- Buffer app (A successful app which serves a really simple solution)
Take away: Create a product / service that is simple to understand and easy to use. Build rapport first and then sell extra cheese on the burger later on to increase the average order value.
4# It’s All About People
Technology helps but the people aspect of your business is the key component of any successful business.
- Prospects & Customers: Use technology to show the human aspect of your business and connect with your prospects & customers on a human level. People prefer to do business with like-minded people.
- Staff: Great people build great businesses. If your team members are not happy with the work environment, it will be hard to achieve business success. Take good care of your staff
Take away: Use technology to help your prospects & staff to solve their problems.
5# Everything is Figure-Out-Able
Love this phrase by Marie Forleo.
We don’t live in an ideal world and building a business is not a smooth ride. You will face many roadblocks along the way but as long as you have a firm believe that everything is figure-out-able, you will succeed.
Don’t let the problems stop you building a great business.
Take away: Most ambitions are always unrealistic. When starting a business, believe on your ambition and figure out every hurdle that comes between you and your ambition.
6# It’s Not About Online or Offline
Offline or online?
This isn’t the right question any more.
Better question to ask yourself is, how can I use online & offline channels to improve my business. You got to figure out what do you require to succeed when starting a business and how can you serve better using online and offline channels.
Once you know your business requirements, it will be really easy for you to decide the right online / offline mix.
Take away: Online medium has matured and every business must have a basic websites at bare minimum with contact details and services page.
7# Build a Minimum Viable Product / Service
Don’t fall in love with your ideas.
Our ideas are like our babies and we can’t see the problems in them. Before you devote your life to your idea, take your idea through a reality check real quick.
- Demand: You don’t have to guess, use free Google keyword tool to check, is there any demand of a product or service that you are thinking to create.
- Will People Pay for It: You need to make sure that certain number of people will be happy to pay for your product / service.
- Competition: Also pay attention to current market competition in your niche. If you are just starting a business, it will be a good idea to find a niche with less competition if possible.
If your great idea passes this reality check, build a minimum viable product real fast.
Brian Clark explained the concept of lean startup and building a minimum viable product extremely well.
Take away: Accept that your product is not a finished product but still launch a minimum viable product real fast and improve the product continuously with user feedback.
8# People Buy Solutions
People buy solutions to their problems not your products or services.
Better solution = a successful product or service.
- Pick a problem: Decide what problem your product or services is going to solve for your prospects
- Offer a Better Solution: Build a product or service to solve that particular problem of your prospects in a better way than current available options
- Market: Market the solution you offer to your prospects to solve their problem not your product or service.
Take away: How your product / service solve the problem of your problem is all that matters not your product or service.
9# Packaging Does Matter
You don’t get the second chance to make the first impression.
Ever thought why the Apple products are ruling the word?
No doubt their products are great but buying any Apple product is an experience from sales staff, opening a box for an iPhone to an after sales service.
If Apple with products people love pays so much attention to their product packaging, how can we as a startups or small business owners can ignore this important aspect of business success.
Take away: Emotion rules the brain’s decisions. Your product packaging or delivery of service should touch the emotions of your prospects. If you can do that, they will find the logic to buy your product / service themselves.
10# Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
If you are starting a business, get really good at delegating.
Otherwise, your business can be the worst job in the world.
If you are starting a small business, only effective delegation will enable you to:
- Go on holidays
- Scale your business
- Spend time on important aspects of your business
- Acquire new skills to improve your business
Take away: At the end of the day we all have 24 hours in a day. Success depends on how we use these 24 hours.
11# Hire People You Need
Hiring is a scary task to figure out when starting a small business.
Natural tendency is to hire family & friends because of so many personal reasons. Family and friends can be great, but do they have the right skills and knowledge that business demands?
Hiring someone you like over someone your business needs is a decision that can make or break your business.
Take away: Only those people who have skills that your business needs can help your business to grow. Learn how to manage people really well.
12# Speed of Delivery is Important
Have you ever completed any task well before the due date, even you had all the time in the world?
Often we tend to complete most of our tasks at the deadlines.
We are living in a very fast passed society and things change really fast. The longer you take to complete any order the harder it will get to complete and get paid for that project.
Take away: It’s getting really difficult to acquire new business but when you manage to close any deal, don’t relax. Complete the order as fast as you can and get paid. Delays create problems.
13# Consistency is a Power
Winning here & there is good but to win a world cup, you need to win consistently.
Consistency separates successful people from the losers.
Building a great body is a no secret and most of us really want to get our body in shape. But only those people succeed at this who workout consistently day in day out.
Most business ideas are like building a great body. Quite a few people know the formula but they could never be consistent to work out that plan consistently.
Take away: Consistency is the difference between failure and success. You must strive to stay consistent and do what you say you will do it no matter what happens.
14# Fail Fast
No one has the success formula in the world.
It’s all about testing and finding out the wining idea. You never know which idea will work out. For example, if you would knew that the idea number 10 will be successful, what would you do?
I would try to fail 9 times as fast as I can.
All successful people do mistakes but they don’t repeat the same mistakes.
Take away: Launching an idea before it’s ready can really help you test the market in the real environment that can save you lots of valuable time and money.
Analysing what is working and what is not is so important.
When you start a small business, you try so many different things:
- Different type of marketing stuff
- Sales process
- How to hire new staff & plenty of other stuff
It is so crucial to find out what is working and orchestrate it.
Take away: If something is working in your business then you are in luck. Find out what is working and orchestrate it as much as possible.
16# Marketing is the Key
Marketing is one of the most important part of the business success. Don’t hold yourself back and reach out as many people possible once you have tested your product or service.
Don’t try to please everyone.
This is the biggest mistake people do when it comes to marketing. For example, becoming a No.1 website developer in the world is quite difficult but to become an expert website designer for Realtors is relatively easy.
Take away: Find your unique selling proposition and become an expert in your niche by teaching people.
17# Get Good at Negotiation
Can you do a business without negotiating with people?
I don’t think so, and whenever you have to deal with people, you got to negotiate. We don’t live in an ideal world. Things often don’t go as planned and you have to adapt with different situations.
You got to negotiate plenty of different things with your:
- Maybe Yourself
If you’re not good at negotiating it can create lot of stress.
Take away: Don’t ignore, talk to people when things are not going as planned. Most people understand when you discuss things with them on time.
18# Time is Gold
You can earn unlimited money but you can’t have more than 24 hours in a day.
If Noah Kagan can build a million dollar business over a weekend, you can do it too.
What is stopping you?
Take away: If you have business idea, launch it as quick as possible and keep improving your product with customer feedback. Don’t spend all your life to make it perfect before the launch.
19# Work on Your Business
For most people starting a business means:
- No boss
- Free to do whatever they want
- More holidays
- More money
But often people start working in their business and end up having a worst job in the world for themselves.
How to find out that you are working in your business or on your business?
Can your business keep operating as normal if you’d have to go somewhere for a week and your staff can run the business as normal?
If yes, then you have worked on your business if not, I am afraid you have created a job for yourself not a business.
Take away: Read E-myth Mastery by Michael Gerber to learn how to work on your business.
20# Stay on Top of Your Finances
Regardless of your financial situation. It’s so important to keep an eye on your incomes and out goings.
Not an easy task to see your bank statement when things are not going well. But if you ignore, it will only help to make the situation worst.
Take away: You must check your incomes and outgoings monthly. I would prefer weekly when starting a business. This will help you to find problems more quickly.
21# Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
This may conflict with Focus point I mentioned above but here is a deal.
Different baskets don’t mean that you should spend your time and energy on entirely different businesses.
- If you are a realtor you can build your business around sales & rentals instead just sales or rentals.
- If you are running a restaurant, don’t rely only on one dish
- As soon as you have some money you can invest in real estate.
Take away: This will help you to avoid market crash in one sector and keep the income coming from different sources in difficult times.
22# Start Small
Rome wasn’t build in a day.
It takes time to build a business and the most difficult part is starting out.
Make a list of the things you need to do to improve your business. Don’t try to do everything at once.
Take away: Pick one thing at a time and complete before jumping to the next task. Celebrate the victory for every task you complete, no matter how tiny it was.
23# Execution is Everything
Ideas are important but execution is everything.
A poor idea executed well, will be lot better than an awesome idea, which cannot come out of your mind. We all have plenty of ideas in our minds but only those people see the results those have the courage to execute it.
Take away: Find a unique selling proposition and execute your idea as best as possible.
24# Never Stop Learning
One of the common characteristics of highly successful people is that they don’t stop learning. Things are changing at a rapid speed; you must keep yourself up to date with the latest trends and changes around your business.
Take away: There is an information overload and it’s really easy to get overwhelmed. Your main goal for new leanings must be to improve your business and new leanings shouldn’t distract you.
Question: If you are already a successful business owner, what other lessons can you share with us when it comes to starting a small business? Feel free to add in the comments below.
Photo credit: Kirstyhall
Annabel Candy, Successful Blogging says
Love that you started with self-care – it can be all-consuming as easy to let personal wellness slide in the pursuit of business success.
It’s best suited to those who love constantly learning new things – I guess that’s us:)
Rana Shahbaz says
Self-care is the most over looked aspect while chasing our goals. I find myself guilty of this as well. Thank you for stopping by 🙂
Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca says
I second Annabelle here. Love how self-care was #1 — I neglected my own needs for so long, I almost tear up thinking about it.
Lack here is a dream-crushed 🙂
Chris Nadeau says
Awesome stuff Rana! I think your last point of always learning is key. If it is not learning, your business needs to evolve or else you will be doomed. Think of Apple how they have evolved over the years. Started out as a computer company that ended up getting into music and cell phones.
They are always evolving!
As for any other tips, a big one that has helped us thrive over the last 11 years is finding quality partnerships with businesses that have the same customers as you. You can do so much with this especially when starting out. They all don’t work out, but when they do it is a beautiful thing. 🙂
Jason Anthony says
How about #25 Stick With It. This is very important when it comes to success. I don’t think many new entrepreneurs/small business owners realize that you don’t typically see positive cash flow for at LEAST 3 years (and depending on the type of biz, 5 in some cases). Many get discouraged and tap out after the first year or two. Unless it’s a total flop and bad idea (which hopefully you’d figure out), you have to be persistent.
I’ve been through the start-ups and it’s really hard. However, it all needs careful planning and when you’ve already started, the only thing to do is how to maintain it and establish it as the best resource.
I like the “fail fast” tip. Get failure out the way almost. Deal with the elephant in the room almost. It’s something we all think about. I’ve failed lots of times. So did Thomas Edison, but he simply regarded it as finding out which lightbulbs DIDN’T work, subsequently allowing him to get close to the one that did.
Great list in general. The first one is the best. I quit smoking last year, then drinking, then I started running everyday. Gotta love those endorphins.